State of the States
Mississippi Governor Wants Hike in School Funding
Gov. Haley Barbour called for an increase in teacher pay, expanded early-childhood education, and full funding for the formula intended to equalize school spending throughout Mississippi, in his State of the State speech Jan. 15.
His speech to a joint session of the legislature included praise—for the second year in a row—for those involved in helping the state’s school system rebound from disastrous back-to-back hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, in 2005.
“It is a great credit to the local superintendents, principals, teachers, and staff that every public school in Mississippi was back open before any public school in New Orleans was back open,” Gov. Barbour said, thanking state schools Superintendent Hank M. Bounds and the education department.
In all, Gov. Barbour, a Republican in the last year of his first term, is requesting $2.43 billion for precollegiate education, about a 7 percent increase from last year. The total state budget request is $5.49 billion.
In the area of teacher pay, the governor requested a 3 percent pay raise for teachers, increasing the average annual salary in the state to almost $43,000, from $42,000.
He also is asking for $158 million for full funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula, to provide more equitable school funding across the state. In addition, the governor wants legislators to approve a $5 million early-childhood-education initiative that builds on the existing network of private child-care and Head Start centers.
Vol. 26, Issue 20, Page 29